Famighetti & Weinick PLLC are Long Island employment lawyers. We receive many calls each week from potential clients and we hear a wide variety of questions from them. One question we hear a lot is “I thought I can’t sue my employer?” Why do employees ask this question and what’s the answer? Today’s Long Island employment law blog explores this issue.
Personal injury law applies when employees are hurt or injured in the workplace. In New York and on Long Island, workers compensation law covers situations where employees are hurt at work. Under workers compensation, employees generally cannot sue their employers for workplace injuries. Because many people are familiar with the concept of workers compensation, they believe that the rule prohibiting lawsuits based on workplace injuries applies to all workplace matters.
But, workers compensation does not act as a prohibition against all lawsuits relating to the workplace. Even in the world of personal injury, sometimes employees can still pursue lawsuits based on injuries incurred in the workplace. For example, employees injured from construction site accidents may be able to sue the property owner or a general contractor. Further, employees injured in a car accident may be able to sue the other driver. Similarly, if a worker is injured on property which does not belong to the employer, the worker may be able to sue the property owner. Also, New York’s scaffolding law protects employees working with ladders, or otherwise working at heights. Before concluding that you cannot recover for your workplace injuries in court, it’s best to consult with an experience employment lawyer or a personal injury lawyer.
Workers compensation also does not apply to employment discrimination, retaliation, hostile work environment, sexual harassment, and wage and hour violations. So, for example, an employee who has faced sexual harassment in the workplace may sue her employer based on that unlawful conduct. The employee may have to first file a charge of discrimination in an administrative agency, such as the EEOC or New York State Division of Human Rights, but that requirement does not act as a complete bar to suing the employer.
In sum, the idea that employees cannot sue their employers is somewhat of a myth, although that rule does apply in some situations, usually relating to workplace injuries. But, victims of employment discrimination or retaliation may bring claims against their employers, including by suing the employer in court.
Employment law can be complex. Moreover, whether the employee’s claim is based on personal injury or employment discrimination, the claims may be subject to strict time limits which can bar the employee’s claim, altogether. Employees who believe they have a legal claim against their employer, who have been injured at work, or who have faced unlawful discrimination, retaliation, or sexual harassment, should speak with experienced employment lawyer as soon possible.
The Long Island employment lawyers of Famighetti & Weinick PLLC are available by email, phone at 631-352-0050, Facebook, and on the internet. If you have questions about employment law, workplace injuries, or other workers’ rights concerns, contact us today.